Willie’s provides the best of music, brews and BBQ


On any given night you’re sure to find eclectic music, fine brews, and delectable barbecue at Willie’s Locally Known.

Gordon Kaye

Whether you’re craving a large portion of freshly smoked pork, a live sampling of a new band or a good beer, Willie’s Locally Known has you covered. 

Now a staple of the Lexington live music scene, Willie’s first opened in 2012 on North Broadway. Owner and founder Wilson Sebastian said he “had never been as much as a bus boy” before opening Willie’s and yet he’s had a great success. 

When asked about his inspiration for the restaurant, Sebastian said he “fell in love with live music at The Dame” a venue in downtown Lexington that closed years ago, and decided if he ever had the opportunity, he’d like to bring similar music back to Lexington. Sebastian has achieved this goal, as the venue typically hosts five to seven shows a week, offering a wide selection of artists playing a delightful mix of traditional country, rock, and bluegrass. 

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J.D. McPherson is a prime example of high-caliber talent who brought his roaring rockabilly sound to a crowded Sunday night show this past weekend. The restaurant was packed two hours before McPherson arrived and warmly received the country-rock sounds of opener Erica Blinn. As McPherson took the stage, a crowd of 20-30 gathered near the stage that only grew in strength as the show continued. 

McPherson’s soulful vocals, frequent guitar solos, as well as the bellowing baritone saxophone created an energetic environment that brought patrons out of their seats. Ending with a three-song encore, it was difficult to believe it was still Sunday night as the crowd erupted with applause. 

Other notable shows in the past at Willie’s include Alejandro Escovedo, St. Paul & the Broken Bones and Billy Jo Shaver. Notable shows to round out 2016 at Willie’s include Wayne Hancock on Nov. 19 and Vandaveer on Dec. 28.

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Willie’s Locally Known has made a name for itself over the past four years not only as a venue, but as a restaurant. The mouth-watering aroma of smoking barbecue is noticeable as soon as you exit your vehicle and is a central part of the “southern eclectic soul food” that Sebastian serves. According to Sebastian, the top-selling dish on their menu is the traditional pork sandwich. Willie’s Pork Burger was featured on the Food Network series Burgers, Brew & ‘Que. 

“Everything we do, we do very well” said Sebastian, adding that there’s something for everyone, including vegetarians. 

In addition to their regular menus, they also offer a Jazz Brunch every Sunday. 

The restaurant moved from its downtown location in May of 2016 to its current home on Southland Drive due to a lack of space. The new and improved Willie’s boasts a seating capacity of nearly 180 indoor along with an outdoor patio that seats an additional 60. The bar offers 24 mostly local beers on tap and an impressive selection bourbon to go along with a variety of cocktails.